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Defense minister says NATO continues military buildup near Russian borders

NATO has increased its maritime reconnaissance near Russian borders by 1.5 times
NATO exercise on a training range in Poland AP Photo/Alik Keplicz
NATO exercise on a training range in Poland
© AP Photo/Alik Keplicz

MOSCOW, December 22. /TASS/. NATO continues building up its military potential near the Russian borders, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday.

"Instead of uniting efforts against international terrorism, NATO has declared Russia a threat and continues its military buildup near our borders," Shoigu said at the Defense Ministry’s final board meeting.

NATO has increased its maritime reconnaissance near Russian borders by 1.5 times, Shoigu said.

"The maritime reconnaissance near our territorial waters has increased in frequency. We have been keeping an eye on these activities and preventing any attempts to violate Russia’s maritime borders. NATO has also stepped up its military drills, most of which are aimed against Russia," the minister added.

NATO member-countries have stepped up intelligence activities along the perimeter of Russia’s territory, according to Shoigu.

"The total number of flights by their reconnaissance aircraft has grown. It increased almost threefold near the Russian borders, and eightfold in Russia’s southwest," he said.

"By comparison, there were 107 such flights in the 1990s and 298 in the 2000s. This year, their number has risen to 852," Shoigu noted.

Potential threat from missiles neutralized

Russia’s Defense Ministry has neutralized a potential threat near its borders posed by US Tomahawk cruise missiles that can be launched from missile shield launching systems, according to Shoigu.

The universal nature of the anti-ballistic missile defense’s Mk41 launchers allows them to hide Tomahawk cruise missiles after some re-adjustment, the defense minister said.

"Such missiles along our borders can number from 150 to 200 with a range of up to 2,400 kilometers. The fly-in time to the Russian western borders will be less than 10 minutes," Shoigu said.

"The decision to neutralize this threat as approved by you, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], has been fulfilled," the defense minister said, without specifying how this had been done.

First Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Department of Russia’s General Staff Lieutenant-General Viktor Poznikhir said in October in Beijing that the US ABM system possessing the anti-ballistic missile, the anti-satellite and the strike potentials was an integral part of the US strategic offensive armaments. The basic task of its regional components is to block the strategic nuclear forces and the space grouping of Russia, he said.

Poznikhir also noted at that time that the US Mk41 universal ABM launching systems could be used for the launch of hypersonic attack missiles currently under development.

The United States unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 ABM Treaty in 2002. After that, the Pentagon launched large-scale work to create the national missile defense system. In particular, the missile shield ground-based systems are being deployed in Europe.